Is Tennis Champion Emma Raducanu Luxury’s Latest Savior in China?

What Happened: It’s been a stellar couple days for Emma Raducanu. On Saturday, September 11, the talented 18-year-old Londoner won the US Open women’s tennis champion, instantly becoming a NYC (and world) fan favorite. Then, on Monday, September 13 — some 48 hours later — she joined the famous and fashionable at the Met Gala, sporting Chanel’s Cruise Collection, and sparking rumors the Gen Z super star will be soon signed by the luxury house. 

Surprisingly, her rise to stardom effectively began only in late June as a wildcard entry to the 2021 Wimbledon Tennis Championships, where she was ranked as a complete “outsider.” But today, having won her maiden title at the US Open, she is already set to become one of the world’s most marketable sports stars, having already signed a deal with Tiffany & Co., with plenty more to come. Moreover, Raducanu has drawn millions of fans in China thanks to her Chinese heritage (her Mother is Chinese-born) and fluent Mandarin language skills; she has even earned the nickname Dong Bei (north-east Chinese) girl” and gained 600 million views on a video she posted in Chinese. 

The Jing Take: Raducanu’s work ethic and dedication to her sport has seen her rise in the ATP Rankings from 345th earlier this year to an impressive 23rd today. As such, this makes her an intriguing role model for global luxury brands seeking to attract fans in China, which is enjoying a newly found focus on sports as a healthier alternative to the likes of stationary online gaming. Especially as the sector is grappling with a host of ever-increasing celebrity scandals, blacklisting, and government clampdowns. In fact, China’s state media has already warmed to her, lavishing the athlete with praise and celebrating her Chinese heritage. 

In terms of sponsorship opportunities, it is already clear that the talented athlete will follow in the footsteps of fellow tennis superstar Naomi Osaka, who has picked up a number of high profile deals this year, such as with Louis Vuitton. However, she may even eclipse Osaka’s success. According to experts, Raducanu is expected to earn millions through lucrative deals and endorsements, which have already started with Tiffany and Nike. Her model looks, cheerful demeanor, and overall marketability means luxury houses will be battling it out for her face. And, given her dual ancestry, her price will be almost incalculable should she choose to launch herself in China’s vast and profitable market. Today, given her meteoric success, she may well be luxury’s most bankable savior — in China and beyond.  

The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.